There are many different types of anxiety conditions and it can be confusing to identify which one most applies to you because many of them overlap with each other and several of the symptoms can feel the same. For example, someone who struggles with general anxiety about things in their life such as work and their family, may also find that they can become anxious about their health (Health Anxiety) at different times in their lives. They may then develop ritualistic and repetitive checking habits to help them manage this health anxiety which can develop into traits of, or diagnosable Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Some (and not all) of the diagnoses that fall within the umbrella term of ‘anxiety’ might include:
- General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Health Anxiety
- Separation Anxiety
- Panic Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
Common Symptoms of Anxiety
The common symptoms that are associated with these disorders can be multiple and varied. They are also usually experienced very physically because of the hormones involved in manifesting anxiety symptoms such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones have a powerful effect on our heart rates which inevitably can also cause other physical symptoms such as:
- Sleep problems
- Racing heart
- Rapid breathing (hyperventilating)
- Tingling in hands, feet, head and face
- Shortness of breath
- Dry mouth
- Body tension
- Needing the toilet often
- Upset stomach
- Changes in body temperature, for example, sweating, coldness, and shivering
Therapy for Anxiety
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is the main body in the UK that draws together the recommendations from the research in relation to different health conditions. In relation to therapy for anxiety conditions, the general belief is that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is the most effective anxiety treatment. The specifics of the way the therapy for anxiety is delivered varies depending on the type of anxiety and the severity. There are lots of different forms of CBT including more recently developed versions that can also be helpful in treating anxiety. Some examples of these include Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT). These more recent types of therapy for anxiety also have a strong evidence base in their effectiveness.
While lots of recommendations are made in the evidence, the most important thing we believe in prioritising are the individual needs of the people we work with as some people prefer to work in different ways than others and respond better to different ways of working. We consider ourselves integrative therapists who have had training in several different types of therapy and so we are able to draw together different aspects and techniques from these different therapies to respond to each individual’s needs. We also believe that whatever therapy is offered, the most important component is the strength of the relationship formed with our clients.
There are some really useful emotion regulation strategies that people can use themselves to help when dealing with anxiety. For example, we often recommend during the winter months that our clients spend some time (about an hour) outside every day engaging in light exercise. This is beneficial because it ensures contact with nature which is proven to be effective to support the development of mindfulness skills. Exercise also helps our brain release hormones that counteract some of the negative effects of unspent adrenaline and cortisol (the stress hormones). Using a daylight lamp and taking a vitamin D supplement are also thought to be useful aids when the dark nights set in to cope with anxiety. Other things you can do might include recruiting help from people around you, even if this means ‘acting opposite’ to urges to hibernate indoors. Other people can encourage you and help you increase your accountability to yourself if you set yourself goals each day you want to achieve. Most importantly it is crucial to integrate things into your day that are soothing and calming to aid coping with anxiety. Try having warm baths with all the extras to ignite your senses (scented candles, bubbles, gentle background music or a relaxation track downloaded off YouTube). When you do this, try to really focus on your five senses and the experience you’re having in the moment.
If you think therapy for anxiety could be beneficial for you, get in touch with us today and arrange an appointment for an initial consultation.